Brian is surely a writer by heart: Apart from his daily job as an editor at healthline.com, Brian writes for his own blog bladeordie.com and for the Be-Mag Online and Print magazine. In 2007 the award-winning journalist released his first book ’A Constant Suicide’. A few years later, in 2011, his second book ’Freeze Tag on the Highway’ followed which some people described as a ‘a thriller that brings terror in its potential closeness to reality’. It’s the logical conclusion that he is already brewing up something new on book paper in his brain.
Of course, Brian is also a Rollerblader which you cannot only see on of the pictures below, but mostly on his skin: 30 scars in total adorn the ravaged body of Brian Krans depicting his 15 years of blading experience.
And what makes or made him a Jackass? It’s actually the way he expresses his thoughts, in other words: his writing. To quote himself: ‘There are lots of writers out there writing fluffy, cute, happy stories about really heart-warming people. I’m not one of those writers. The nice parts of life – those not celebrating the strange and putrid – kind of bore me. The world is an odd place. I hope to show people some of that.’
Working closely with Brian Krans for some time now here at Be-Mag we are more than happy to give you a better insight into his life and his perspectives on life.
Photos by Ivan Narez Interview by Bruce Bales Intro by Oliver Nermerich
Brian, you are know known as one of the strongest voices in blading because of your writing, specifically for the ONE Magazine website and Bladeordie.com, how did you get to the position you are today?
I don’t know if I’d use the word strongest, but the idea started with Justin from ONE. I was writing book reviews for them, and one night he emails me about doing a “Talk Soup for rollerblading” and I agreed. I had the first one written before I went to sleep.
What has been the most valuable writing related job you have had?
Newspapers, easily. Writing about the biggest thing of the day – which usually involved a few dead bodies, some shit you couldn’t make up, sleaze ball authority figures getting busted, and a little bit of rape sprinkled in for fun – being in the middle of some chaos, and making a few bucks was the best way to waste my youth. I miss it.
How did journalism help to change your writing and subject matter in your creative writing?
It created it and fueled it. I have a letter from Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club and others) where he told me to enjoy reporting because nothing would give me more material to write fiction about. He was right.
I have described your writing style as ‘shock and awe’ despite the terrible military reference, would you say this is an accurate depiction? How would you describe your writing?
I try not to shock people just for the sake of doing it, but you’ll prove a point faster with a shotgun than you will with a goose-down pillow. There are lots of writers out there writing fluffy, cute, happy stories about really heart-warming people. I’m not one of those writers. The nice parts of life – those not celebrating the strange and putrid – kind of bore me. The world is an odd place. I hope to show people some of that. The writing I do about rollerblading is meant to show off how badass the sport is, how dope the people are, and how there’s still people that are able to love something so much and yet still be able to make fun of it.
How does writing relate to blading? Is there a connection for you?
They are the only two things I’ve ever experienced that always made me feel better, no matter what was going on. It doubles as artistic expression and therapy. Blading the wrong way leaves me a bloody mess, but writing also does that when I do it well. That, to me, is sexy.
You are no stranger to controversy. The world of blading was first exposed to your rants and raves on the ONE Magazine site. What happened with that column? Why the transition to Bladeordie.com?
I stopped writing for it due to a disagreement with Justin. That’s about all that needs to be said on it. Honestly, I was glad to be done with writing about blading the way I did. It was nice not having to pay attention to little details in blading, like the Be-Mag messageboard, or worst of all, Rollernews comments. I could watch what I liked, never read the comments, and enjoy it. The break was nice while it lasted. Then my buddy, Jose Fuentes, wanted to start a new site so my column could continue on. Others encouraged me to keep writing. Why? I have no idea. I’m grateful they read what I write.
What is Bladeordie.com’s mission? What are you trying to accomplish by writing about blading?
We have no mission, and that’s what makes me proudest to be a part of it. Mainly, if I do anything with purpose, it’s to show people that all the shit they spend so much time getting so worked up over is really trivial and most of it is nothing more than glorified dick waving on the internet. Blading is the greatest thing ever, so it still boggles my mind at all the petty shit that exists out there. People regularly accuse me of talking shit. I do go overboard sometimes, but I hope no one really takes it too seriously.
You’ve specifically called out many bladers in your columns. Why the direct approach? While it is clear you really care about rollerblading, you’ve pissed some people off. What would you say to those people today?
There’s no point in being indirect. That’s pussy shit. If I smell something foul, I’ll say something about it. My name goes on my columns, so I have to be able to cash checks my mouth writes. I’m still waiting for that point at Bitter Cold when someone breaks a bar stool across my teeth.Most rollerbladers are the dopiest dudes around. They’re chill, humble, and grateful for everything they have. That’s what makes the sport awesome, not dickwads doing dickwad shit.
I read every column you put out. There are some I agree with, and other I do not. Obviously, you will have that. How do you strive to appeal to a mass audience? How would you address those who adamantly disagree with what you are doing?
The rollerblading mass audience is still a small one, so as long as it is remotely rollerblading related, it might work. Throw in some dirty words for fun, a few random images off the internet, and I call it a day. For those of you who disagree with me, good. If everyone followed me blindly, I’d kill myself. Mainly, don’t take anything I write too seriously. I don’t.
Shifting gears to your novels, what made you want to write a novel?
Freedom. Freedom to write whatever I wanted, the way I wanted. I was writing for newspapers at the time, and that is the easiest place for a writer to die when it comes to style and creativity. My first novel, A Constant Suicide, was just the beginning to that.
How have you grown as a writer and novelist since your first novel A Constant Suicide?
Oh yeah. I’ve got writer pubes now.
I am always curious to know how a writer is impacted by critique, whether positive or negative. How did the response to your first novel effect you?
It was mixed. I will say I don’t have the thick skin I would like when it comes to criticism, but I read it all. The compliments are nice, but they won’t help you learn. I would lie if I said the hard criticism even to this day of anything I write doesn’t get to me, but I always pull my shit together and move the fuck on.
Did you approach Freeze Tag on the Highway differently then your first novel? And, how do you usually write? What are your surrounding and actions like?
I like to go psycho when I write. I lock myself in my room. I pace violently. I crank my music up. I yell at myself. I chain smoke. On the best nights, I’ll be wasted by the time I’m done. It’s destructive, exhausting, spiritual, and perfect. It’s a lot like rollerblading.
Although I am extremely biased, I was mesmerized by your latest novel. I finished it in three days, and I literally lost sleep thinking about it. I would say your novel was more than successful. How would you rate Freeze Tag on the Highway?
It’s my favorite to date, but it’s not my masterpiece. It was a bitch to write, but I enjoyed every second of it. The next one is going to be even more fun to publish.
Tell us about the shout-outs to bladers or blading companies in the novel.
All of my books are very personal, and pulled directly from my life. So, it’s impossible to talk about my life without rollerblading, so I had to sneak a brand name in there and make one of the characters a blader, even if it’s not the point of the book. I try to keep it subtle.
Who has influenced your craft? Who are the greatest motivators in your life?
I was fortunate to have an awesome high school English teacher, Mrs. Cavanaugh; a great mentor in college, Prof. Vivian; and a great newspaper editor, Chris Steinbach. Of course there are hundreds of friends who support me, and each and every one of those people are my personal heroes for having the patience to put up with my bullshit. I’m my own worst critic, so attempting to make myself happy is the hardest part. Realizing nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much I rewrite it, is the only reason I haven’t killed myself yet. That is, after all, what writers do.
What makes a good piece of writing? When you read something powerful, emotional, or inspiring, what sticks out to you?
Good writing makes you pause for a moment and think. Great writing makes you rethink. I really like fiction-books, movies, TV, etc. – where characters do bad things for good reasons. Not all of them have to be Robin Hood, but Tyler Durden and V from V from Vendetta blew up buildings to liberate people, Walter White from Break Bad manufactures meth to help his family, and others like them. I like when fiction can take normally fucked up actions and make them sound completely logical because of the circumstances the character is in. That’s when you know the writer is really fucking with you.
What advice would you give any person wishing to write? How would you describe getting started with the invention process?
Don’t. Learn to draw or paint or something. Artists are way cooler. Real writers don’t write by choice. They do it because some sharp-clawed beast is crawling through them and scratching away furiously at a keyboard is the only way to keep it from eating its way out.
Do you think writing has a diminished importance in today’s society? How can we get more people writing?
Haha. LOL. I wuz just txtng my bff that 2day.
The culture writing cultivates is sometimes a dirty and nasty one, but it can also be uplifting and inspiring. What is it about writing that helps you in your day to day existence? Who are the people to thank for the culture built around the blank page?
Writing is what I do and who I am, just like rollerblading. Without them, I would have no reason to stick around here. There are people who made the written word badass, not just with their words, but how they lived their lives without remorse. These men – Ernest Hemingway, Charles Bukowski, and Hunter S. Thompson – were wise in that they didn’t try to make sense of the madness of this world. They celebrated it.
You’re the more talented, more motivated, and more recognized writer in this exchange. Write something to end this thing. All the best, Krans. On behalf of Be-Mag, thank you for doing this.
Thank you, Bruce. Thanks to Be-Mag, but thanks to everyone in rollerblading. Thanks to all my Thanks to the Iowa Connection, ONE, AMall, the Radvocate, and anyone else who’s helped me with my writing. Thanks to everyone involved in Rock Town Press. Thanks to Ivan Narez, Brandon Smith, Jero, and Justin Hertel for being awesome at what they do. (More on that project later.) Thanks to Valo, Trust, TheM Goods, Vibralux, Create Originals, BulletPruf, and Street Artist for making shit that lasts. Thanks to guys like Jon Julio and Mike Opalek for being my childhood heroes and putting up with my endless grooming as a grown-ass man. Oh, and to Victor Arias, for letting me know that I’m Level 1. The idea knowing I have even one person reading the bullshit that comes in my brain makes me feel a little less fucking nuts.